The Helderberg is one of the lesser-known wine regions found in the Somerset West, Strand and Sir Lowry’s Pass area. Here, you’ll find gorgeous wine estates with views of the Helderberg Mountains and False Bay, and plenty to do besides.
For example, Vergelegen boasts South Africa’s largest private conservation project and was the first producer to be awarded WWF/BWI Conservation Champion status in 2005. The source of the Lourens River is on neighbouring farm Lourensford, which has tackled the invasive alien vegetation that threatens the valley’s indigenous fynbos and water resources. Now other farms in the area are following suit. Here’s how to explore this innovative wine region.
See the best views
1. False Bay
False Bay is known for its gorgeous coastline that offers diverse marine life. There are approximately 11500 species of creatures beneath the water and being on the Indian Ocean side of the Cape Peninsula, the water is warmer too. This is wonderful for those wanting to swim in the tidal pools or surf and if water isn’t for you, there’s always the option to go shopping. There are many quirky shops alongside the coast and the seaside villages, like Muizenberg, St James, Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay are easily accessible.
Also read: Southern charm: guide to Muizenberg.
2. Helderberg Nature Reserve
Address: Helderberg Nature Reserve
Overlooking False Bay is the 407-hectare Helderberg Nature Reserve proclaimed on 23 September 1960. The reserve was initially a Wild Flower garden and there are many well-maintained picnic areas to spend the day. Helderberg Nature Reserve has many walking trails, a plant and gift shop, an information centre and the Oak Cafe for you to enjoy lunch.
3. Clarence Drive (R44) Route runs from Gordon’s Bay to Pringle Bay to Hermanus
Clarence Drive is named after Jack Clarence, who is responsible for replacing the footpath between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els with a proper road. This route is described as one of the most breathtaking drives in South Africa. The 22-kilometre coastline drive connects Gordon’s Bay and Kleinemonde. If you drive a convertible car, best to drop it and let the wind run through your hair while you drive.
Enjoy the outdoors
1. Head to Strand Beach for swimming and surfing
Strand Beach has a five-kilometre stretch of white sand and is very popular for surfing. Along Strand Beach, there are small shops and restaurants where you can enjoy the Summer. Stand Beach is ideal for family days out or a romantic afternoon stroll with your significant other.
2. Hike the Helderberg Mountain
There are several hiking routes in the Helderberg Mountains. The hikes vary from short distances that start at 2,2 kilometres to longer ones at 8,2 kilometres. The hikes cater for different fitness levels too, ranging from an easy stroll and no exposure to tougher options with moderate exposure to heights. There’s also the option of guided walks. You can purchase a ticket at the Visitor’s Centre from R20 for adults and R10 for children.
3. Somerset West Village Garden to gain some skills in organic farming
Address: 41 New Street, Somerset West
The Somerset West Village Garden was established as a community project to grow and provide vegetables for those who are unemployed in Somerset West. The Village Garden now provides opportunities for the unemployed to gain skills. The establishment is also wonderful for educational resources and organic food production.
Eat your heart out
1. The Healey’s Farmhouse Deli
Address: Waterkloof Wine Estate, Sir Lowry’s Pass Road, Somerset West
Healey’s Farmhouse Deli is situated at the Waterkloof Wine Estate. The cheese produced at Healey’s is free from artificial colourants and preservatives. The space was created for people to familiarise themselves with different kinds of cheese and the fascinating process it takes to make them. Guests are welcome to purchase the cheese from the deli and also eat here while enjoying magical views of the False Bay.
2. Pajamas and Jam Eatery
Address: 32 Van Zyl Street, Gants Plaza, Somerset West
Pajamas and Jam is in an old warehouse in Somerset West. The eatery is in an industrial area, but certainly is a must-try. You will be transported back in to a different era the minute you walk in. The staff are exceptionally friendly and know the menu off the top of their heads. The warehouse is a combined restaurant and an antique shop so you can browse while you wait for your food. There are banting and vegetarian meal options available too.
3. Triggerfish Brewing
Address: De Beers Avenue, Paardevlei, Somerset West
Triggerfish Brewing is a craft beer brewery that is also tucked in an industrial area. The brewery offers tastings from Monday to Saturday by appointment. You can expect a rustic and warm ambience, accompanied by a seasonal menu. If beer isn’t your thing, they have a variety of good local wines to choose from.
4. Proof Wine Bar
Address: 5 Drama Street, Lionviham, Somerset West
Proof Wine Bar opened its doors in January this year. The name Proof is taken from the volume of alcohol content there is in a beverage. The Wine bar is an intimate and upmarket space that serves craft beer and craft gin and tonics. Drinks at Proof start from R28 a glass. They offer a lovely atmosphere as well as biltong and cheese boards if you aren’t in the mood for a heavy meal.
Visit the Helderberg for these great events
Starlight Classics is an incredible music concert under the stars at Vergelegen (2 – 3 March 2018).
Cavalli Wine & Stud Farm (0218553218) is hosting the ‘Lady Garden’ group art exhibition (on until 3 December).
Lourensford’s annual Hanepoot Harvest is in late February. ‘Families come to pick their own grapes. It’s probably the most anticipated event of the year!’ says Sally Reece of Lourensford. Lourensford also hosts Stellenbosch City Orchestra concerts in the cellar, movie nights and a market (new here is the Motor Studio, a classic car collection combined with a six-beer tasting for R100 per person).
Taste the Helderberg is the local food and wine fest (14 June 2018).
Then sleep it off
1. Colourful Manor Luxury Lodge
Address: Sweetwaters Road, Off Sir Lowry’s Road, Gordon’s Bay
Cost: From R1025 per unit for two
The Colourful Manor Luxury Lodge is surrounded by unspoilt natural surroundings. It’s the perfect place to explore Hermanus, the Overberg and Franschhoek. The Hottentots Mountain will amaze you as you wake up and glance out the window and the area will charm you
Also read: By hook or by fluke, our guide to Hermanus.
2. Lalapanzi Lodge
Address: Farm 3 Wedderwill Estate, Sir Lowry’s Pass
Cost: From R1350 per night
The wonderful thing about Lalapanzi Lodge is having the option to choose between self-catering cottages or going for the bed and breakfast accommodation. The self-catering cottages are a glorious hideout with standards of a four-star hotel. From the balconys, you can see as far as False Bay and the Hottentots Holland Mountains.
3. Erinvale Estate Hotel and Spa
Address: 1 Erinvale Avenue, Somerset West
Cost: From R1327 per night
Erinvale Estate Hotel and Spa are big fans of sustainability. There is recycling in full scale – glass, plastic, carton, paper, tin, raw food waste and grey water wastage is used from the laundry and hairdresser to water gardens and clean outdoor areas. The hotel has also enforced awareness to use less water in bedrooms by introducing waterless sanitizers. The alien plants have been removed from the gardens and replaced with water-wise and indigenous plants.
Read more about the Getaway Green Wine Awards and our other favourite wine regions in the November issue.
Our special green issue features the best off-the-grid campsites, fantastic holiday stays in Wilderness, an affordable jungle trail in Borneo and incredible eco-lodges in Zanzibar!